Trend tracking key to success
Creative Food Solutions Marketing Director Nigel Parkes reveals the biggest tastes, flavours and styles currently driving profits in the foodservice sector
One of the things we’re asked by foodservice operators on a regular basis is, ‘what’s the easiest way to create a point of difference on our menu and remain on trend?’.
Through market research and our team of expert development chefs, we can identify and track current food trends and work hard to provide our customers (operators) with products that suit their kitchen requirements and provide the consumer with innovative on-trend products.
Hot ‘n’ spicy has been a big thing for some time now with no sign of it diminishing – if anything, the trend is towards even hotter flavours. Customisation is big and the influence of London-based street food outlets is increasingly significant.
However, the big buzz for this year remains the trend towards vegan, vegetarian and plant-based products. Retailers and foodservice operators are aware of this, which is why we’ve seen an increase in vegan menu options and new ranges being launched in retail, such as Wicked Kitchen by Tesco.
As you would expect, vegan product development continues to grow at pace. For example, here at Creative Foods we now manufacture a range of vegan burger sauces and mayos that aren’t egg-based. We even produce a vegan blue cheese sauce. As technology improves and vegan sauces become less distinguishable from non-vegan, many restaurants are using vegan products across the board in order to reduce the number of different sauces on-site. But this doesn’t mean that meat eaters should be ignored. Mainstream meat products can easily be livened up with minimal cost and maximum ease, simply by adding a flavoured sauce or preparing and presenting them in a particular way to deliver a theme. Calder Foods’ Cheeseburger Melt launched under its Love Fresh brand and brings together prime minced beef, mozzarella and cheddar cheese in a tangy burger sauce that can be poured on to a burger, tortilla chips or fries for a fast and tasty topping.
Condiments and sauces offer consumers a great opportunity to follow the trend of personalising a dish according to their own individual taste. In addition to this, consumers are prepared to be a lot more experimental when it comes to combinations of ethnic-inspired flavours, such as Korean BBQ sauce, kimchi ketchup and sriracha mayonnaise.
Indeed, fusions of contrasting flavour types are becoming more and more common: sweet and smoky; fruity and spicy; hot and sour. Complex flavours involving fermented or smoked ingredients are also growing in popularity.
And, inevitably, thanks to the world of social media, appearance plays an ever-increasing role, with Instagrammable dishes generating online buzz. We’ve seen colourful unicorn foods grow in popularity, as well as goth foods. Indeed, we’ve even launched our own goth product: a black garlic and charcoal aioli.